A Battle Shield Poem from the Facebook Age
All citizens of United States communities should expect to be arrested at least once in their lives because of freedom of speech and opposing injustice. In order to make effective changes in police systems, there will have to be multiple “beach-head” actions that infuse change into police culture. This will take years, so time horizons must be expanded. When we see each other as human beings, we treat each other better. We never think when we rise in the morning, that we will be killed, or that our lives will be impacted later that day. Individuals get broken. A great Christ degraded, tortured, and crucified. A great Christ overcomes death itself. We still talk about him. Jesus wept. I shudder and rage when I see in my mind’s eye, George Floyd under Dereck Chauvin’s knee. The horror. My God, why has thou forsaken me?
I believe one possible solution to police brutality, is the deployment of social workers on police squads. Several years ago, programs rendered good results in Iowa. The social workers communicated with citizens and police action was reduced. I recommend trials be nationwide (if they aren’t all ready) and see what happens. Perhaps this could be one “beach-head.”
I have been a student of the United States Civil War 1861-65 and have an interest in “The Gunfight at the OK Corral.” With our modern technology and “wonderments,” the confrontation in Tombstone Arizona, in 1881, between law enforcement and underclass people, may not seem relevant. There had been an ongoing competition between local cowmen and police. The open ranges and large land mass could give people easy escape and so things were more equal between citizens and government. It was easier to disappear and get a new start somewhere else. Men could do heinous things and not be brought to justice. Violence and intimidation could flourish. Law enforcement had its ‘hands full’ protecting law abiding citizens.
Four Marshalls told the cowmen to give up their weapons. (There were multiple incidents of “in-town” carrying of firearms against the city ordinances out of defiance.) The competition between these cowmen and the police came to a head. The lawmen were marksmen weapons experts; the cowmen were not. Three of the five cowmen were killed. These cowmen had brutalized and abused law-abiding people. They were aggressive bullies. History indicates they got what they deserved. The Marshalls were acquitted of murder and the killings ruled justifiable.
We have a society today in increasing flux and distress. The golden age of World War II prosperity is long gone. It IS change happening—change that seems unfair and terrifying—because it is. The image of George Floyd and Derek Chauvin comes back to me.
My father was a police officer in a small Alabama town, back in the “Jim Crow” late 1940s. He and his partner found a truck, double parked, in front of a drug store. Inside the store was a black man sent by a doctor to get medicine for his child on the verge of death. My dad’s partner wanted to pistol whip this black fellow. My dad had a heart and protected him. It got serious. Dad and his partner almost pulled guns on each other. Finally, the other police officer backed down. I know EXACTLY what would’ve happened if my dad had come across George Floyd refusing to get in the back of the squad car or Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck. My dad came from an earlier United States, where it was not uncommon to stick up for, and even get into the fight for, someone who was being ganged up on by unfair numbers of other people. Despite the rampant racism of the era, and now, the damage by invasion of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, and Donald Trump’s wishing the protestors well on their way to the Capitol Building, the U.S. of my dad’s times was known for having a heart, looking out for the little guy, and fair play. Nowadays, the police are regulated unlike in the past. My dad left that police department, I believe, because he stuck up for people. Today, people may find it sensible to not get involved, and many times, this is the right thing to do.
U.S. culture has grown and changed into different things. Change keeps moving since the first atom flashed in “The Big Bang,” and God’s hand touched the hand of Adam, if you like. Change is always afoot and it will create conflict in the human masses, which creates more conflict, and mixes in and generates happenings, perpetuating growth and breakdown at the same time. It is painful. It kills. It mauls, and causes suffering, surprising ‘still and sheltered’ lives, never before affected.
Somewhere in the vortex, if we can care for people, as we think we should, we may get prosecuted, or even killed for it. In the inevitable change, we know we tried to do good, or, chose not to, for that is our right also. Now: let us look ahead to this day.